The Customer Perspective: How Cascades and SAP prioritize supply chain sustainability

By hotmaillogin

Business Chief sits down with Xavier Duprat, Director of Logistics and Production Planning at Cascades, to learn how the business is putting sustainability at the forefront of its operations.

Sustainability is quickly shifting from an idealistic preference to a mission-critical change in operations. Beyond reduced waste and increased efficiency, sustainability has emerged as a necessary way to do business to appeal to both partners and customers. 

Sustainable business practices are especially relevant in the packaging industry, historically one of the biggest contributors to supply-related waste with an estimated 30,000 tons rotting in landfills. Cascades, one of the top packaging manufacturers in North America, is on the front lines of sustainable business practices through a streamlined supply chain. To hear about their story, we sat down with Xavier Duprat, Director of Logistics and Production Planning at Cascades.

To get started, please tell us about Cascades and its core values?

Cascades produces, converts and markets packaging and tissue products that are composed mainly of recycled fibres. With 25 plants operating across Canada and the United States, we are the largest manufacturer of containerboard in Canada and the sixth-largest in North America. In line with our corporate mission to “improve the well-being of people, communities and the planet by providing sustainable and innovative solutions that create value,” and to optimize its supply chain, we realized that we needed more consistent planning processes, faster planning cycles and better user engagement in our supply chain strategy.

Why did Cascades decide to address the issue of waste, and how are you doing so?

We have evolved our business processes to address the issue of sustainability head-on, knowing that it is an industry-wide challenge. We understand that sustainable business practices, like an efficient supply chain, are not only good for the planet but are also good for business.

What sustainability challenges has your company faced? 

In order to get the business results we wanted, we knew that we had to make some changes. Working alongside supply chain leaders such as SAP, we determined that enabling fact-based decision making by increasing end-to-end supply chain visibility and providing access to information from one place was something that we needed to address. There was no relationship between sales and operations and strategy and tactical operations, which was also causing issues. We knew that we needed to make some changes in order to facilitate faster planning cycles and consistent processes for sales and operations planning, while improving collaboration and user engagement across functions.

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What SAP technologies are you using to help with the project and what impact is the project having on the rest of the business?

We introduced the SAP Integrated Business Planning solution to provide full support for monthly and weekly planning processes and to enable easy collaboration and quick resolution of issues across functions. The enhanced data and forecasting help our company make smarter decisions. With our employees and sales teams able to focus on adding value, we were able to be more agile and responsive to our customers’ needs, allowing us to continue to deliver the innovative products that our customers have come to rely on.  With SAP, we now have a comprehensive and transparent overview of our supply chain, helping us to be highly responsive to customer needs. 

In the end, why did you select SAP and how is its technology helping with efficiency?

Implementing SAP Integrated Business Planning has helped us establish long-term partnerships with our most strategic customers. These partnerships enable us to support our growth and sustainability goals with our strong focus on the supply chain. Since choosing SAP, we have seen value-driven results, including:

·        Improved decision-making with the aid of more-accurate data and forecasts (up to 80% better forecasting accuracy 

·        90% Less time needed for data collection 

·        Reduced costs, due to increased visibility and improved collaboration  

·        Improved planning security supporting sales to new markets  

·        Greater efficiency with maximized production capacity and faster access to relevant information for both internal and external users  

·        Enhanced ability of employees and salespeople to focus on value-added tasks such as customer service

What trends are you seeing within the packaging industry and how are you adapting to them?

The containerboard industry is increasingly moving towards a “buyer’s market,” as more capacity and foreign investments are shifting the equilibrium of demand and supply in this direction. In the past, it might have been somewhat acceptable to operate and service customers with a certain amount of backlog within a “weekly” window, but I don’t think that will be the case in the coming months and years because of this new reality. Customers are becoming more demanding - and rightfully so. In response, organizations need to shift their mindset to service the customer in a timely manner, focusing more rigorously on cost control, working capital and “just-in-time inventory” best practices. 

Where do you see Cascades going in the next five years?

We need to have a clear understanding of our global supply chain and master new processes in order to deliver and exceed customer expectations. True customer-centricity will hinge on on-time delivery as a critical differentiator, and in turn, help organizations thrive in this new environment over the next five years.

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